The Marvelous Wonderettes to debut at Little Theatre of Owatonna
The Little Theatre of Owatonna invites audiences to take a trip down memory lane with the new jukebox musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
The production features sights and sounds of the 50s and 60s, with a cast of four talented ladies delivering those nostalgic hits on stage while several stories unfold.
“The first act is prom in 1958 and the boy band that was supposed to provide the music for prom got caught smoking, so they got expelled,” director Bev Cashman said.
“So, on very short notice, a group of girls is going to sing,” Cashman said. “So, all of the first act is 1958 and features songs from the 50s and then there’s an intermission and they come back and it’s their 10-year reunion and they come out and strut their stuff because they’re 10 years older. But there’s still some lingering angst from ten years ago, that all gets resolved.”
With the production split into two acts, the quartet of actresses remain on stage until that act break, which presented a challenge for Cashman and the team. “There are no set changes and there are no scene changes, so they are on all of Act 1, there’s and intermission and then they’re on all of Act 2. So that’s really hard on them.”
While Cashman was initially attracted to the musical because of its small cast size and current COVID requirements, the music and the fun sealed the deal.
“I think it’s one of those things during this hard, hard COVID time that will make people laugh and leave singing and there might even be a tear or two, who knows,” she said.
The cast of four each gets to play a unique member of the singing quarter.
Angela Schoquist, who plays Suzy Simpson, said she finds a lot of herself in her character. “She is focused on her boyfriend who runs the lights and we catch up 10 years later and see how their marriage and their life went,” Schoquist said.
“She’s very bubbly and I like her because she’s bubbly and fun and it’s very interesting to play something that hits close to home as a housewife married to her husband since high school.”
Emma Hellevik plays Missy. “She’s the goody-two-shoes teacher’s pet who wants to have prom go perfectly with no errors and no mistakes, which is of course not what happens,” Hellevik said.
“She comes back a little more relaxed in Act 2, having some more life experience.”
“What’s interesting about my character is that she changes the most out of all the characters from Act 1 to Act 2,” said Jamie Jannissen, who plays Cindy Lou Huffington. “In the first act, she’s the character that probably nobody will like, but she goes through some things within the 10 years between the acts which changes her.”
Rounding out the cast is Page Anselmo as Betty Jean Reynolds.
“She’s kind of the tomboy. She’s the sporty one of the group and she really has a lot of school spirit. She’s very peppy and she changes a lot between the two acts too,” Anselmo said. “She has a boyfriend who she stays with between acts.”
While each actress finds something to like about their respective characters, it’s up to the audience to find their favorite.
“They all have something to root for; the audience will definitely root for each of them except Cindy Lou,” said Schoquist while sharing a laugh with her fellow cast members.
A show like this requires a lot of work behind the scenes, including technical directors, a pit crew in charge of live music, the costumes, the set builders who constructed a set that revolves from a 1958 set to 1968, and props.
“I just have to give lots and lots and lots of credit to all the hard work going into this,” Cashman said. “There’s just so many people working on this and I find it incredible and gratifying.”
A bevy of old-fashioned school props were gathered or made by Dianne Suarez who heads up the prop department. “Pretty much everything you see was made or found by us,” Suarez said. “In between acts we flip the stage and a lot of the props change.”
Some detailed props include the old-fashioned microphones, gym lockers authentically recreated, several water fountains, and the ladies’ personal items all hand-made or scooped up by Suarez and the crew to recreate that 50’s and 60’s feel.
“I grew up with my older sisters doing dishes and singing all these songs in harmony so I find it nostalgic and I think people like nostalgia like when you hear those old songs from when you were in high school come on the radio,” Cashman said of the production’s appeal.
For those who want to relive their glory days or those younger audience members looking for something that will brighten their day and put a smile on their face look no further than “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
The jukebox musical will premiere at the Little Theatre of Owatonna on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. with additional evening shows held on Oct. 15, Oct. 16, Oct. 21, Oct. 22, and Oct. 23. Matinees will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.